If you're reading this, chances are you'll agree that almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and tree nuts, in general, are not only delicious but are also super healthy for you. They're all-natural gifts from Mother Nature. The perfect snack for any occasion.
Well, you probably also know that these superfoods need a lot of water to grow. Gallons and gallons of water just for a handful of almonds. It's a lot harder to accept when California suffers from annual droughts and wildfires while growing over 80% of the world's almonds, almost all of the world's United States pistachios, and over half of the world's walnuts.
This is all true. When it comes to water consumption per production, tree nuts, cashews, and peanuts have some of the largest water footprints. Some estimates put the range of water usage from 1,100 gal/lb to 1,925 gal/lb, depending on the type. That's huge when compared to apples or bananas that take about 100 gal/lb.
But if we zoom out and look at the bigger picture, meat and meat derived products have the largest water footprints of all. It can take over 2000 gal for 1 lb of steak or 1lb of butter. Chicken, eggs, cow's milk, and pork all take a lot of water to produce. And when we look at the water usage, we are looking at not just how much the animals drink but also at how much water it takes to produce the animals' feed. Most fruits and vegetables are towards the bottom of the list when it comes to water usage. Vegans win again. Tree nuts and peanuts are usually classified as moderate to high water consumers, but not the highest.
Surprisingly, chocolate, coffee, olive oil, and wine need a lot of water too. It can take over 2,800 gals of water to make 1 lb of chocolate! Coffee might take up to 1,050 gals just for 1 gal of coffee. We guess it's a lot easier to blame almonds than it is to take away some chocolate or that jolt of caffeine in the morning. (It's OK, we completely understand!)
So do almonds, walnuts, and pistachios take a lot of water to grow? Yes, they do. But let's be fair, do they take up the most water? Nope, not at all. We don't know why people decided to single out our beloved tree nuts but we're OK with it. They're yummy and they've been linked to amazing health benefits. Super versatile, they can be paired with a variety of foods and enjoyed at any time of the day. Plus, they're a flavorful source for vegan protein. We love 'em! =)
Here are a few more interesting reads about this topic: